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Interview with Manda Robertson from Raising Robertsons Crochet

Interview with crochet designer & blogger Manda Robertson from Raising Robertsons Crochet on Underground Crafter

I’m excited to share another interview today as part of a series highlighting crochet designers for (Inter)National Crochet Month. Today’s featured designer is Manda Robertson, an emerging crochet designer and blogger who has challenged herself to post about hats every day this year through her 365 Days of Hats series! She has a great sense of style which combines a vintage look with a punk DIY ethos.

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Manda can be found online at Raising Robertsons Crochet, and on EtsyFacebook, Pinterest, and Ravelry (as RaisingRobertson and on her designer page). All images are copyright Manda Robertson and used with permission.

Manda Robertson.

Manda Robertson.

Underground Crafter (UC): How did you first learn to crochet?

Manda: Shortly after having kids, crochet as a hobby started becoming all the rage in the mom circle I was a part of. I knew I had to start sometime. Eventually, I unraveled a hat I purchased from a fellow mom friend and worked it back together. I was hooked ;). I eventually resorted to YouTube to learn more. I started with only one hook and was clueless. It came so naturally to me, I’ve been addicted ever since.

Top Hat for Her, free crochet pattern by Manda Robertson.

Top Hat for Her, free crochet pattern by Manda Robertson.

UC: When and why did you get started blogging?

Manda: When we expanded our family, our budget become so tight and much less flexible. I really didn’t want to leave being a stay at home mom full time. My mom suggested I try blogging and working with fibers from home for a little extra income. She and her mother used to crochet, too!  She was right to tell me to do so :).

Pretty Pillbox Vintage Hat, free crochet pattern by Manda Robertson.

Pretty Pillbox Vintage Hat, free crochet pattern by Manda Robertson.

UC: What inspired you to start designing?

Manda: Honestly, my nanny (my grandmother). She used to crochet years ago and she handed down her hooks to me after a while of me crocheting. The moment I sent her a photo of my very first design she told me to go for it!

PurelyAlpaca

Every time I use her hooks, I’m reminded of how hard she worked as a stay at home mom with four kids, all little ones, yet still had time to make such lovely pieces for her family. Everything from where my crochet workstation is (we are kitchen table ladies) to the bag I use when I travel (it’s hers, too) with my supplies just reek of her. She is my number one fan, and I admire everything she has ever done. It is also why I try to design and make a lot of vintage items/hats.

funky

Funky Fez Hat, free crochet pattern by Manda Robertson.

UC: You’re doing an interesting project on your blog this year, 365 Days of Hats. Tell us about this project. What is it and what was your inspiration behind it?

Manda: I keep seeing these “365 days” everywhere. I wanted to jump on the train. Hats seem to be very popular in the fiber arts world so I knew I had to take on this project!  This project feature a hat/hats everyday. This includes pattern reviews of hats I’ve made for customers or family, patterns I have designed and written myself, as well as roundups!

Shop Custom Fabric on Zazzle

I wanted to include other designers in on my project, too, so there will be even more pattern reviews from myself and other designers this coming year, too. I’m very excited about it!  I was inspired by being a mom and the never ending hunt for hats in the retail world.  Especially for babies. I couldn’t ever find any. Now I make them, haha.

Mongolian Tundra Cowl, free crochet pattern by Manda Robertson.

Mongolian Tundra Cowl, free crochet pattern by Manda Robertson.

UC: Obviously, you like to crochet hats! What’s your favorite thing about hat projects?

Manda: It’s funny because I used to hate making hats. I was sick and tired of being asked to make the same beanie over and over again. I started collecting free patterns in my Ravelry queue just to show people a different option than they requested. This project had taught me that there are almost a million more designs out there and everyday I have gotten to “know” a new one.  There is a design out there for everyone! That is 100% my favorite thing. So many options!!!!

Elflet Hat, free crochet pattern by Manda Robertson.

Elflet Hat, free crochet pattern by Manda Robertson.

UC: Where do you generally find your creative inspiration?

Manda: From everyone in my life I love. It’s smaltzy, I know, but it’s true. Literally every design I come up with has someone in mind, whether it be my sons, or just a very loyal, old friend. Everyone has a different personality and drive in life and each of those works of art, to me, represents them.

UC: What is your favorite crochet book in your collection?

Manda: Stitch ‘N Bitch Crochet: The Happy Hooker by Debbie Stoller. Actually, anything fiber art related by her is my fav!!!

Arctic Fury Aviator Hat, free crochet pattern by Manda Robertson.

Arctic Fury Aviator Hat, free crochet pattern by Manda Robertson.

UC: Do you have any crochet/crafty blogs or websites you visit regularly for inspiration or community?

Manda: I have to plug Ravelry first. It’s my go to site for free or paid patterns. It also feels like a secret club for fiber artists, which makes me feel pretty cool lol.  It’s a great place to network too!  I also really love Hopeful Honey. She is so talented and her vintage hats are obviously my favorite to make tee hee. There is also Stitch 11. She has been there from the beginning for me. She was one of the first to tell me to take this yartsy (yarn artsy) path in life and never give up!

UC: How are you celebrating NatCroMo this year?

Manda: My husband and I are working on a new fiber arts room for me. So, I’m using it as an opportunity to organize my yarn stash and get a new crochet work space!! Maybe crochet a new set of curtains for it :).  NatCroMo will be all about self care this year.

Thanks so much for stopping by, Manda, and I can’t wait to see how your 365 Days of Hats turns out!

Interview with Fabiola Woerner (Hispanic Heritage Month series)

Interview with crochet and bilingual mommy blogger Fabiola Woerner on Underground Crafter

Today, I’m finishing up my interview series in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month 2014. I’m pleased to share an interview with Fabiola Woerner, a Chilean-American multi-craftual blogger. I met Fabi through a group for crochet bloggers, but she also sews and embroiders, and shares printables and tips for raising bilingual children on her blogs. On Tales of a Crafty Mommy, Fabi shares crochet projects, patterns, and tutorials; sewing and embroidery projects; recipes; and tips for raising bilingual children. On Bilingual Mami, Fabi shares homeschooling ideas. You can also find Fabi online on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. All pictures are copyright Fabiola Woerner and are used with permission. Click on the pattern or tutorial image to link to the relevant post on Fabi’s blog.

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Interview with crochet and bilingual mommy blogger Fabiola Woerner on Underground Crafter

Fabi Woerner.

Underground Crafter (UC): How did you first learn to crochet?

Fabi: I learned to crochet while in was in summer break visiting family in Chile. My aunt and grandma showed me how to do the basic stitches. I practiced throughout my senior year making a scarves and a baby blanket that remained a work in progress for a while.

UC: What inspired you to start blogging?

Fabi: I started blogging several years ago as a way to record my crafts and projects when the list of things I wanted to make far outgrew the amount of time I had available. My first projects were hair bows that I started making for my then 1-year-old baby girl. I picked up crochet again that year when I finished the baby blanket I had started back in college.

Interview with crochet and bilingual mommy blogger Fabiola Woerner on Underground Crafter

Fabi’s free Tea Bag Holder crochet pattern.

UC: In addition to crochet, you also talk about raising bilingual children, cooking, and other crafts on your blog. Did you always plan to talk about each of these topics or did your blog evolve over time?

Fabi: Yes, actually, those have always been topics I have mentioned throughout my blog here and there as part of my everyday life. I am now working on moving that content and have created a second blog that focuses more on raising children bilingually, home-education, and life at home. My other site is called Bilingual Mami.

UC: You share your patterns (as well as other parts of your blog) in both English and Spanish. Why did you decide on a bilingual format and what are some of the challenges and benefits of being a bilingual blogger/designer?

Fabi: I truly enjoy communicating in both languages; both languages are part of me and I just really like using them in every way I can. At home, we speak in English and Spanish all day, so it came to a point when I realized I should be sharing that aspect of myself on the blog as well.

The main advantage is that I am able to connect with many others who crochet in South America. I have truly enjoyed the connection I have made with many Spanish-speaking followers. I don’t think would be possible without using my Spanish.

Some may see it as a disadvantage, but although it takes more time to write a post or translate a pattern, I have truly been enjoying making my content available in two languages. Sometimes online translators miss a few things here and there, so by providing my direct translation, I know the content will be found at its most pure meaning.

Interview with crochet and bilingual mommy blogger Fabiola Woerner on Underground Crafter

Fabi’s Fabric + Crochet Sundress Tutorial.

UC: Tell us about your cultural background. What was the yarn crafts scene like in your community when you were growing up? How does that compare with the current scene in Florida?

Fabi: I grew up in Santiago, Chile, where I lived fairly close to a Crafter’s Market called ‘Feria Artesanal de Santa Lucia’ with over 150 shops available. There I could find knitted socks and hats as well as handmade bags made using the tapestry crochet technique. I’d say this technique is quite popular in Chile due to its proximity to Bolivia and Peru.

Circular Ponchos

UC: Does your cultural background influence your crafting? If so, how?

Fabi: I attended a Chilean school where we had a class called “Tecnico Manual” or Handcrafts. In this class, we learned how to make different crafts throughout each year. I had this class up until eighth grade and I still remember how to make many of the crafts we did back then. I’m so thankful for those years where I was able to experiment with different media that allowed to discover my own creativity. Also, because I began crafting at such a young age, I encourage my own children to craft and paint at home. Everyone has an inner artist and age is not and should not be a limiting factor.

Interview with crochet and bilingual mommy blogger Fabiola Woerner on Underground Crafter

Fabi’s free Crochet Tic-Tac-Toe Board pattern.

UC: What are your favorite crochet books in your collection?

I enjoy crocheting chevron blankets, including the one I made for one of my children.

I’m also fascinated by granny squares. You get to choose the color(s) and the design and will end up with a one-of-a-kind blanket.

The book Beyond the Square Crochet Motifs is currently on my Wish List. I’ve read awesome reviews on it. Once you learn how to make your motif, you can turn it into anything you want! (UC comment: You can find my reviews of both granny square books, along with 7 others, in this blog post.)

Interview with crochet and bilingual mommy blogger Fabiola Woerner on Underground Crafter

Fabi’s free V Stitch Dishcloth crochet pattern.

UC: Are there any Spanish- or English-language crafty websites/blogs you visit regularly for inspiration or community?

Fabi:

Thanks so much for stopping by, Fabi, and for blogging bilingually! 

Interview with Andrea Sanchez (Hispanic Heritage Month series)

HMM Andrea Sanchez

As part of my Hispanic Heritage Month series, I’m excited to share an interview today with Andrea Sanchez, the (mostly) knitting designer behind Andrea Sanchez Knits. In addition to her self-published patterns, Andrea’s work has been published by Holla Knits, Interweave Knits, Petite Purls, and Interweave Crochet.

Andrea is also a blogger whose work can be found on her own blog, Life on Laffer, as well as on the Craftsy blog. You can also find Andrea online on Ravelry (as peatmoss83 or on her designer page), on Facebook, on Instagram, and as @andrea_knits on Twitter. All images are used with Andrea’s permission. Click the pattern images to be brought to the Ravelry pattern page.

This post contains affiliate links.

Interview with Andrea Sanchez, knitting designer and blogger, on Underground Crafter

Andrea Sanchez, in her Adult Tide Pools knitting pattern. Image (c) Marianne Barta.

Underground Crafter (UC): How did you first learn to crochet and knit?

Andrea: My mom taught me to crochet first. I was about 19 and in college. We were having a lazy winter Saturday and I asked her to teach me to crochet because I had decided I wanted to make my own blanket. She made me promise that If she bought the yarn I’d actually start and finish the blanket. I’ve always had a kind of will o’ the wisp attitude towards learning new crafty things. But I learned and finished that afghan. It turned out to be about a queen size and I still use it every year. The following winter she tried to teach me to knit (with worsted weight yarn on long, metal needles, size US10.5!) and that lasted all of about half an hour. I was really frustrated and gave up.

I moved to Ohio in 2007 and in 2009 I was working for a woman who crocheted. She introduced me to Interweave Crochet magazine. I was looking though it one day and found an ad for Ravelry. I joined up and was amazed at all the crochet and knit projects. I joined a swap and my swap partner sent me a pattern for a bulky knit scarf and 2 skeins of Plymouth Baby Alpaca Grande. I was so excited to have my own knit scarf I ran out that same night and bought the correct sized needles (bamboo this time) and spent the rest of the night watching YouTube videos and trying to work the first two inches of that scarf but finally figured it out. A week later I had my first scarf and I never looked back!

Interview with Andrea Sanchez, knitting designer and blogger, on Underground Crafter

Beech Street Vest knitting pattern. Image (c) Holla Knits.

UC: What inspired you to start designing?

Andrea: Before my son was born I started looking for some sweater patterns to make. I found that there just isn’t a big selection of sweater patterns that are more modern for little boys. I had an idea of what i wanted to knit for him and just couldn’t find the pattern. I realized that I had knit a lot of sweaters and I knew how the construction of one worked so I did a swatch and decided to give it a try. I submitted the idea to Petite Purls, it was accepted and that was the Navajo Pullover. After that, every time I had an idea of a sweater for him I just gave the idea a try on my own and that’s how I got started.

Interview with Andrea Sanchez, knitting designer and blogger, on Underground Crafter

Adult Navajo Pullover knitting pattern. Image (c) Marianne Barta.

UC: You primarily design knit projects, with an emphasis on clothing for children and women. What do you enjoy about this type of project?

Andrea: I am very much a product knitter, meaning I’m in it for the finished products. Plenty of times I have started a sweater already knowing where I plan on wearing it or what I want to wear it with. With designing, I have found myself making things that I want to wear right away. I also really enjoy making sweaters for my son. Knowing my knitting is keeping him warm that makes me feel happy. After the successful design of the first Christmas sweater (Little Fisher Pullover) I told my husband that I would make our son a sweater for Christmas forever. So far he’s only had two Christmas’s to knit for, but I love that this is going to become our tradition. I’m already in the planning and swatching phase of the Christmas Sweater 2014.

Interview with Andrea Sanchez, knitting designer and blogger, on Underground Crafter

Pugsley knitting pattern. Image (c) Andrea Sanchez.

I also tend to design mostly sweaters, because I’m a sweater knitter at heart. I love socks and accessories, but there’s something about seeing all the pieces of a sweater come together and be wearable that just gives me a lot of satisfaction.

UC: In addition to writing your own blog, Life on Laffer, you’re also a blogger for Craftsy. What tips do you have for new and emerging bloggers?

Andrea: Just write about what you enjoy. I started blogging a few months after I started knitting. I was so excited to be learning and making new projects that I wanted to share it with everyone! I try to share my real knitting life because I think that makes me (as a blogger) more relatable, instead of just sharing all my perfect finished pieces. Obviously, I share finished objects, but also the time my dog chewed the toe off my first pair of handknit socks, and when I had to rip and reknit the body of a sweater twice because I chose the wrong size. I didn’t want people to read my blog and think my life was so perfect and I crank out all these knitted things. In reality my kitchen and laundry is often neglected so I can knit instead, and occasionally there are dogs getting tangled in yarn and projects.

Interview with Andrea Sanchez, knitting designer and blogger, on Underground Crafter

Sardines knitting pattern. Image (c) Marianne Barta.

UC: Tell us about your cultural background. What was the yarn crafts scene like in your community when you were growing up? How does that compare with the current scene in Ohio?

Andrea: I am Mexican on my mother’s side. Her father immigrated to California, where I grew up, when he was 16. My father’s family is from Spain and they came to California many generations ago, back during Spanish mission days before California received statehood.

My grandmothers on all sides crocheted while I was growing up (lots of doilies!) but it was never the thing. My mother learned to crochet at school and I don’t remember any of my cousins doing it. I also wasn’t very into to crocheting when I loved there. Other than my starter blanket, I made one other blanket and that was it. In Ohio, I found that “making” made me feel more Midwestern! I joined a Stitch ‘n Bitch group right away and have found a really vibrant group of crafters. I have a good friend who is a true maker, from food to household items, to much more. I love being a part of this group of so many talented women. Our town also hosts many craft fairs and has some great locally handmade shops.

Interview with Andrea Sanchez, knitting designer and blogger, on Underground Crafter

Midwinter Cardigan knitting pattern. Image (c) Marianne Barta.

UC: Does your cultural background influence your crafting? If so, how?

Andrea: As an adult I’ve felt that I kind of missed out on having a strong Hispanic culture. My family is very assimilated to mainstream American culture so I feel like I have to make my own culture resurgence. Learning to cook was one of the things that has helped me feel a connection to my heritage. I grew up eating excellent Mexican food but never really learned to cook on my own. I taught myself to make tamales and now that’s something that I do every winter. I want my son to have a good connection to his cultural heritage and I feel like that’s going to come from my own connection to it.

Interview with Andrea Sanchez, knitting designer and blogger, on Underground Crafter

Mustill knitting pattern. Image (c) Marianne Barta.

UC: What are your favorite knitting and crochet books in your collection?

Andrea: My favorite would have to be Knitting Without Tears. It was one of the first books I received as a new knitter and the one that I have referred to most frequently. That Elizabeth Zimmermann sure knew her stuff!

Heirloom Baby Knits

UC: Are there any Spanish- or English-language crafty websites/blogs you visit regularly for inspiration or community?

Andrea: I have quite a few blogs in my blog roll that I visit as often as I can but I have been really into knitting podcasts lately. My new favorite is Curious Handmade. She is also a designer and has small children so I often feel like I can relate. I’m also a regular listener of The Knitmore Girls, The Doubleknit Podcast, and Knitting Pipeline. (UC comment: I love podcasts, too, and they let me crochet and knit while listening. And, I’ve recently launched my own podcast, the Creative Yarn Entrepreneur Show.)

UC: Do you have any upcoming projects to share?

I have a few new patterns that will be released with various companies this fall, as well as some set for late spring publication. It’s amazing how far in advance one can work when designing knitwear! I am also working on a knitwear book which makes me immensely proud, excited, and terrified all at the same time. It’s quite an undertaking and still has quite a way to go before being published.

Thank you for stopping by, Andrea, and best wishes for success with your book project!